`Little Engine' still thinks it can, still thinks it can

Musical pulls into the Gordon Center Sunday

Family: events, activities

March 25, 2004|By Elizabeth L. Piccirillo | Elizabeth L. Piccirillo,SUN STAFF

The little engine that could is still going.

And after nearly 75 years of being a bedtime regular and master of the steep hill, she has become the star of her own Broadway-style musical coming to the Gordon Center in Owings Mills Sunday.

Performance group ArtsPower of New Jersey has adapted the 1930s classic The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper into a colorful stage version called The Little Engine That Could Earns Her Whistle.

The ArtsPower national touring theater has been bringing children's books to life on stage for nearly 20 years, including favorites such as Anne of Green Gables and The Rainbow Fish.

Set in a train yard, ArtsPower's adaptation was created by playwright and lyricist Greg Gunning, along with composer Richard DeRosa. It includes human actors dressed as conductors in the story of Little Blue, who has doubts about her dream to pull the Piney Valley Express and become a real engine of the railroad like her best friend Rusty. But when the Express looks to Little Blue for help, she finds the courage to accomplish her goal.

Along with several original songs and march-like numbers, including a ballad based on the infectious expression "I think I can," children can learn from Little Blue's strength to gain self-confidence and overcome fears.

ArtsPowers co-founder Gary Blackman hopes children will see that they might have more power to overcome adversity than they think. "They make these discoveries along with the characters," he said. "It's the kind of theater children deserve."

"The Little Engine That Could Earns Her Whistle" will appear Sunday at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynbrook Ave., Owings Mills. Show begins at 3 p.m. Tickets: $6-8; recommended for children 3-8 years old; everyone must have a ticket regardless of age. Call 410-356-SHOW or visit www.gordoncenter .com.

For more family events, see Page 41.

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